Wednesday, January 18, 2012

End of the Semester

The end of semester workload is always a hot topic at school.  When the last two weeks of the grading period come by, many teachers scramble to make final assignments.  Students find themselves bombarded with projects, papers, tests, and portfolios.  Worst of all, they all need to be finished in the same week.  Students from other schools often laugh at Park kids for the conspicuous lack of exams in our curriculum; that is simply ignorant.  In fact, the work we do in lieu of finals is undoubtedly more rigorous and time consuming than any week of exams.
Indeed, the end of the semester can be a lot of work, but the severity of the issue gets blown way out of proportion.  The fact of the matter is that a week, or often just a few nights of hard work will leave students satisfied with their achievements.  Sure, revising six pieces for an English portfolio isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but it’s just something that needs to be done.  Out of the folder in my computer labeled English, which previously constituted a pretty meaningless collection of word documents, I’ve come up with a final product that I’m proud of.  No matter how tedious and tiresome a portfolio may seem, the truth is that it makes a lot more sense than any two hour exam one might take full of multiple choice and short answers.
The point I’m making is that at Park, we are most certainly pushed to work hard as the semester comes to an end, but that’s a good thing.  Rather than being tested on all of the knowledge we’ve acquired over the preceding months, instead, we are asked to put that knowledge to use.  We are challenged to prove that what we’re learning actually means something.  So instead of sitting around complaining about how much work you have this week, feel lucky that you have such an amazing opportunity to showcase the skills that you’ve worked so hard to come by.  Don’t fear the end of the semester.  Embrace it.  The end of the semester at Park is about as good as it gets.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

CONTEST: Fight Night All Night

            So it’s about a week before Christmas, I’m getting antsy.  I’m seeing all of these presents underneath the tree and I’m wondering WHAT COULD BE IN THOSE PRESENTS?  I figure since it’s not that large it had to either be a book, something wrapped in a small case, or a video game.  I knew that in that 3 page list I had made of potential Christmas presents there were only a few games on that list and I was pretty confident which one it was.  (I can’t remember exactly how many or if i knew how to properly spell liaise fair because it was quite some time ago.)  So anyway, my parents say I can open one gift early and I know fo-sho that I’m going for the one that looks like a video game.  So I open it, and unsurprisingly, it’s a video game, Fight Night, the first one I believe but I’m not certain enough to bet my Nerf Gun collection on it.  So anyway, I open the game about a week before Christmas.  I start playing it in the game mode where you do your own career as a boxer.  I named myself purple flash; because if you battled me it was just a flash of purple.  So I’m playing all day every day, and I’m focusing, I want to make every foe I meet remember the name Purple Flash, and I wanted them to suffer by my fist which was wrapped in a boxing glove.  So I’m playing this game and I’m pretty much only stopping to eat, occasionally stopping to fold up some clothes or something like that as well, but I’m not really getting any sleep.  As I’m playing I notice there have been more and more gifts piling up under the tree and I really can’t wait for the big day to come.  I’m so excited I really can’t sleep, I’m just staying up playing Fight Night, punching guys and taking names (Todd very well could be one of those names).
            So anyway, I don’t feel like taking you down a long and winding road because that wouldn’t be kosher, I’m just going to stop telling you what I was doing over those days and let you know; I was up all night every night playing fight night.  So it’s the day of Christmas, about 5:00 A.M. and I’m getting excited, I decide that I want to have the thrill of waking up on Christmas morning so I decide to get up and go to sleep.  So I get out of my chair and I’m about to go to my room when my chair calls for me.  Due to not having slept in almost a week, I pass out almost immediately after standing up.  So I miss Christmas morning, and don’t get to open my presents first, but now that I think of it there’s a serious problem.  I was up pretty much all night right next to the Christmas tree, WHEN DID SANTA COME?


Monday, January 9, 2012

BT Week

            This Thursday night, at 6 PM, Park takes on Beth Tfiloh in basketball in an away game just down the street on Old Court Road.  In the first matchup, on Park’s home court, Beth Tfiloh escaped with a narrow 49-45 victory after a thrilling game.
            My personal rivalry with Beth Tfiloh, however, goes back quite a few years.  Before coming to Park in the 9th grade, I played basketball for Krieger Schechter.  Our annual Saturday night matchup with the Warriors was always a memorable experience, with all four boys’ and girls’ teams playing back to back in the packed BT gym.  There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush that comes when their announcer bellows into the microphone his famous, “LAST MINUTE OF THE PERIOOOOOOOD!”
            As I moved on to Park for high school, my rivalry with Beth Tfiloh did not dwindle; much to my surprise, it intensified.  Now, playing in the same conference, we faced the Warriors twice every season.  Park and BT seem to match up in the playoffs year in and year out.
            A true rivalry consists not only of competitive aggression, but more importantly a mutual respect.  Last year, after splitting their two regular season games, the Warriors sent Park home in the first round of the playoffs in front of a booming crowd.  This year, the expectations for both teams were high, and in the first conference game Beth Tfiloh drew a large crowd at Park’s court.  The fans, donning full suits of yellow and blue, screamed for their team to play “DEFENSE,” hollered during free throws, and chanted, “Ham’s not Kosher” in honor of Park’s center Ham Sonnenfeld.  When the final buzzer sounded, the Warriors fans and players erupted in joy after their comeback victory as the Park boys trudged off the court.
            Following the game there were vicious comments from both parties.  Tweets and wallposts recounted the game in great detail.  The Warriors got their chance to gloat, and with good reason; they deserved some bragging rights after a win away from home.
            Thursday night the teams meet up again.  Look for fans from both sides to come out in full force.  No matter what the final score is, it’s sure to be a show.  This is what rivalries are all about.  For Beth Tfiloh, it is a chance to complete a series sweep.  For Park, it is a chance to get some revenge.  Get pumped: it’s BT Week.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

CONTEST: I Want Proof

             Despite my family’s inconsistent dedication to religious observation, we manage to muster the energy for a single day of faith each and every year. That day, of course, is Christmas. That being said, to a nine year-old me, it was simply the best fucking morning ever. I never really concerned myself with the details, importance, or logistics of the whole affair. All I knew was that when I walked into the living room there was going to be a kaleidoscopic mass of gifts scattered about for me to rummage through. Once I turned ten, however, reality caught up to me. Sure, sure, I thought, the plausibility of a gluttonous old man with infinite funding and accessibility sailing around the cosmos spiking gifts through the chimneys of every well-mannered child was maybe not completely absurd. But how did he know what I wanted without a letter? Postage to the North Pole was unbelievably cheap upfront, so I assumed they made up for it with hidden fees and I didn’t wanna risk it. Yet, miraculously, Santa Claus remained on cue with a high percentage of gifts. That was the real dealbreaker for me.
The little conniving twerp that I had become started to get suspicious. In the days leading up to the 25th, I had forced myself in a deep reclusive state, working on a plan to defraud the rosy, robed racketeer. My operation was dual-fronted. First, adjacent to the underwhelmingly gratuitous plate of cookies and milk, I had devised an autographical identification tool—in the form of a piece of paper that read:

“Santa, sign here: __________.”

I planned to cross-reference that data with known variations of my mother’s and father’s signatures, to make sure there were minimal similarities. The second part of my plan was simple and definitive. I had concealed a video camera in the living room, amidst the bookshelf, and before I went to sleep on Christmas Eve I snuck downstairs and hit the record button.
I awoke on Christmas Day with eagerness not for material possessions, but for the truth. First I ran over to the plate of cookies, where I had left the piece of paper. In the blank that I had provided for his signature, there was the word, in perfectly printed lowercase, “no”. I’d been outwitted; part one of my plan had failed. It was all up to the video evidence now. With adrenaline surging, I clasped the camera and flipped open the LCD screen. The display flashed, clearly embarrassed, as I read the message: “No Media”. Alright, dude, I thought. You win for now. 

- MR

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Can't Be Beat. Won't Be Beat.

This is a letter written by senior varsity basketball captain Michael Ginsburg in response to his team's loss today:
            We had a rough outing today, but we all know it's because we didn't play our game of basketball. This isn't a halftime speech like today, rather, my push at reaching out to all of you in an attempt to instill this into your minds.
            I hope most of you can empathize with me. I've been playing basketball for as long as I can remember. I remember when my dad taught me how to shoot a lay up. Every fall I stay at school in the afternoon and play with most of you. Over the holidays we all come home early to play in a tournament that is almost meaningless to our season. And every afternoon, we practice for two hours. 
            Needless to say, the number of games that remain in my career slowly dwindles. That’s the same for every senior on this team. It's tough to come to that realization, but accepting it is what we must do. That said, every time I step out on that floor, I guarantee I'm giving you a hundred and ten percent. I come home, I'm beat up, I'm sore, I'm tired- but it's all worth it because frankly, once this season is over, I can rest for my entire life because I won't be playing like this anymore. 
            Sophomores and Juniors, I've been in your place. Nobody ever told me how important their season was to them. So here’s my testament to you: when you're in a game, you should be on the floor, talking, diving, rebounding and hustling. You should go home, and feel sore, and tired, and beat up, every game—just like me. 
            It’s halfway through the season and we still haven't quite found our identity. Let's discover that tomorrow. I know it's out of conference, but let's make a statement. 
            I can't do this alone, none of us can. We either heal now, as a team, or we'll suffer as individuals like we did today.